The lock of Liverpool Marina only opens for a couple of hours either side of high tide, so we had little choice but to leave at mid-day. It then takes 3 hours to follow the channel out of the Mersey, so it was already getting late in the afternoon (3pm UT, 4pm BST) before we could start the 58 mile trip to Douglas. Knowing that would take us around 12 hours it was clear that we would arrive in the early hours of the morning and we didn’t want to get there in the dark – so we wanted to go slowly! At first that was easy. What little wind there was was on the nose and we tacked north to clear all the wind farms and oil rigs. In fact even when the boat speed dropped to 0.2 knots and less we considered not putting the engine on, but I mutinied at that point and we motored for an hour or so. Eventually, as forecast, the wind started backing round to the south west and, by the time it was getting dark the gusts were up to 24 knots. Even with 2 reefs in we were doing 6 knots and couldn’t slow down any further. It was great to be sailing, and it was the right decision to reef, but in the lulls the boat didn’t push through the increasingly large waves as well as it should. The motion got rather uncomfortable and I got seasick which meant Richard had to do most of the work. However the timing worked. We just made it to Douglas in time to get over the sill in its marina at 3am UT/4am BST when there was just enough light to see what we were doing.
Harvard in Liverpool Marina with the “tent” up over the cockpit
Richard had to go back to London for a few days for an IMarEST meeting. It also made sense for him to go home to Romsey first to check the post, cut the grass and pick up a suit. Liverpool Marina was the perfect place to leave me and the boat safe and happy, and Liverpool has great transport connections making Richard’s journey easy.
We had one day together before he left and decided to use it to get a bus out to Crosby beach to see the Antony Gormley statues. We had sailed past them coming up the Mersey, but couldn’t really see much from the river.
Crosby Beach with one of Antony Gormley’s statues
Called “Another Place” there are 100 statues placed along a 3 kilometre stretch of beach. All placed in the sand staring out to sea in “silent expectation” . I found it impressive, but slightly macabre to watch these “people” slowly drowning with each tide, but Richard loved it and really understood the story the artist was trying to tell. It must be because of all that time he has spent watching the sea!
I then spent the rest of the week doing jobs on the boat, replenishing our food stocks and being a tourist going on guided walks to understand the architecture, visiting the art galleries, theatres and museums and of course the cathedrals. I had never been to Liverpool before and really enjoyed it.
Doesn’t really need a caption…!
Left Conwy at 10am, close to high tide. We had a relatively relaxed schedule to arrive at the lock into Liverpool Marina. We soon hoisted the sails and tacked slowly out past the Great Orme. The wind picked up from the NNW as predicted and we were soon sailing along nicely in great weather through the huge wind farms on this part of the coast.
We were congratulating ourselves on doing so well when we became confused by a huge crane barge and some yellow structures on our route. This was an extension to the Burbo wind farm with some turbine bases already in place and although our chart plotter charts were up-to-date, it was not shown. A guard boat “requested” that we give it a wide berth and we had to start the engine and motor to windward far off our course. Lesson learnt is to make sure you have read all the latest navigational warnings for the area you are entering!
After that we bore away again for the Mersey and had lots of interaction with Mersey VTS. Yachts seem to be considered a bit of a nuisance and are expected to report in on entry to the Queens Channel at the entrance to the Mersey. If every yacht entering Southampton Water had to call VTS in this way they wouldn’t have the time to do any other work! Anyway we proceeded up the busy 15 miles of channel on the flood, in convoy with another yacht. The tide in the Mersey runs strongly and we had to concentrate hard to adjust our speed to arrive at the lock at the right time without being swept past. It was 19:40 so we tied up on the first available pontoon as advised by the lock keeper because the marina office was closed. The other yacht skipper came over for a chat. He had also been warned out of the wind farm area but told the guard boat he had an engine fault and sailed through anyway! As the other yacht was local it made us feel a little better but it was still a little embarrassing and we should have done our homework beforehand.